This book has been described as Rear Window meets Get Out, and boy does that description fit.
So, if you haven’t seen Rear Window or Get Out yet, you definitely should but it’s not necessary to enjoy When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. In this novel, Sydney notices that neighbors she has known her whole life are selling their houses and leaving with no notice. People who would never leave the neighborhood are disappearing. Gentrification is coming and no one is immune, including Sydney. Realtors and lawyers are continuously contacting her about her mother’s house and she is doing everything she can to hold on to her childhood home.
This is billed as a thriller, but horror vibes are front and center. Absolutely wild things keep happening, and as soon as you think it can’t get any weirder it does. The book starts out slow, but when it gets going, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s a quick read, almost too quick, because you want to know more about everything you find out in the epilogue. White supremacy, unintentional racism, and generational wealth play a part in this title. History lessons abound throughout the narrative as well. Sydney goes through heartbreak after heartbreak, and you wonder if she will survive til the end, and she is definitely a character to root for. This book will have you reexamining who you can trust and what the real motivations of people are in ambiguous situations. When No One Is Watching will have you wondering if you are being gaslighted (another great movie btw – Gaslight) or if something nefarious is going on. Keep the lights on when you go to bed and stay alert after reading.
Also, there is a romance aspect that plays a part in the story (Is it really Alyssa Cole without romance?), but it’s not the majority of the story. Theo is a white neighbor who gets involved in Sydney’s life while his relationship is deteriorating. He also has secrets that may or may not have something to do with everything going on. You’ll get the story from his perspective in some spots which enhances the growing paranoia you’re feeling along with the read.
Publisher: William Morrow, 2020
Format: Book, eBook, AudioBook, eAudioBook
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she's known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community's past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block -- her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo's deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised. When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other -- or themselves -- long enough to find out before they too disappear?
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